Cabs with no destination

Published: February 15, 2011
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The scheme did not work in 1993, and it might not work again owing to the unplanned way it is being taken forward in

Without learning anything from the bitter experience of the Sasti Roti scheme, the Punjab government has now launched the Yellow Cab project for unemployed youth, without addressing loopholes experienced in the same initiative in 1993.

The same scheme was launched by Mian Nawaz Sharif as PM in 1993, in which thousands of vehicles were provided on installments. It was aimed at resolving the country’s transport and unemployment issues. This time round, the Punjab government has reserved Rs.4.5 billion to initiate the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) which will provide taxis for 20,000 unemployed people. 40 per cent of this amount has been reserved for southern Punjab.

The initiative is being launched at a time when public transport buses have virtually vanished from the province. Even in Lahore, a maximum of 250 buses provide transport to 9 million people.

Without ascertaining facts related to the public transport situation, the government has launched the taxi project to expand its vote bank. The Punjab government has signed a contract with Suzuki Pakistan for supply of 800 CC petrol driven cars.

The applicant has to pay 20 per cent as down payment which is approximately Rs90,000 per vehicle. How can an unemployed person aged less than 35 with intermediate qualification arrange this amount? The lucky driver will pay Rs7,500 monthly installments.

The government did not take on board the city government for identification of taxi ranks. No formula is outlined as to how the driver will charge fare or pay a fine in case of conversion for private use.

There is an urgent need to first address the public transport dilemma then put money in such schemes. It seems this is a counter to the Benazir Income Support initiative.

The Punjab government had already exhausted over Rs9 billion in the Sasti Roti scheme but no one is held responsible for this failed venture.

Anwer Sumra

Anwer Sumra

A reporter for The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.